Using 301 redirects to ensure a smooth transition when upgrading your website
When you manage websites, you will likely find yourself in a situation when you need to send traffic from one domain to another. The 301 redirect is the tool you need. 301 redirects are settings on Web servers that instruct browsers to load a different URL. Here are three reasons that you might want to use a 301 redirect on a website.
Maintain Search Engine Visibility
Good websites are designed with search engine visibility in mind. When you transition from one domain to another, this visibility can be lost until Googlebot has a chance to crawl your site again. This problem can be avoided by employing a 301 redirect on your domain.
301 redirects maintain a seamless user experience. A company builds a relationship with customers through its website. Few things are more jarring to users then finding that a website they use is down. When users are sent directly to a 301 redirect domain, the transition happens so quickly users may not even realise they have been redirected.
When you are testing a new version of your website, you may want to direct traffic to the new version for testing purposes. While a 301 redirect can be used for this purpose, its close cousin the 302 redirect is actually the appropriate choice.
Now you know what a 301 redirect is (you can read more at http://301redirects.net), you may be asking yourself how to use one? The fastest is by directly modifying the .htaccess file on the Web server. This file holds the settings that control the operation of a Web server. If you are nervous about editing an .htaccess file, most web hosts have a graphical interface page that allows you to change this setting.
There is a potential problem to be aware of when using 301 redirects. You should always try to redirect directly to the new domain. If too many redirects are chained together, the Googlebot will not follow them. If Google can't find your site, many users will not be able to find your site either.
Using 301 redirects is a great way to ensure that visitors enjoy a seamless user experience. They also ensure that the Googlebot used to update the Google search engine has no problem finding your site so that you don't lose your ranking in the search results. Next time you change domains or update your website, make sure you use a 301 redirect!